OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska school board is considering a proposed position statement that says gender identity and sexual orientation should not bar someone from access to education.

If the "Nondiscrimination and Equitable Education Opportunities in Schools" draft statement is adopted, it would be the Nebraska State Board of Education's first statement specifically addressing gender identity, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

The proposal isn't a policy or a rule, so it wouldn't have any binding impact on schools or districts, but instead acts as a "statement of belief" that shows the board supports inclusion, said Pat Timm, a board member who chairs the policy committee.

The statement is in line with the Nebraska constitutional mandate that says "all who come through our doors have the opportunity for a free and public education," Timm said.

The statement also includes pregnancy, veteran's status, age, disability, marital status and political affiliation. It's a major revision of a 1976 statement, which also contains an equity list but isn't as extensive as the proposed rewrite.

Board President John Witzel said he supports the draft statement.

"In reality, it's the right thing to do," he said.

The draft statement is now being considered by the board's student success and access committee.

Committee Chair Patsy Koch Johns said she hopes to create a tool that will help board members consider equity when making decisions. The "equity lens" would be a series of questions to consider before enacting a policy or taking an action, she said.

Koch Johns said she's seeking input from education leaders and is also studying how other states approach equity.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald,